Friday, June 22, 2012

Examples of Informational Text for Both Social Studies and English Language Arts

COMMON CORE will build a bridge between content areas.  As students (especially ELLs) build those vital connections, their language skills will improve.  For ELLs, this translates to improvements in identifying and using academic vocabulary in all 4 language skill areas (listening, speaking, reading, and writing).

For all students, the COMMON CORE will better prepare them for life beyond high school be it the world of business or higher education.  In fact, due to the new format of student team work in solving problems, students will hone their speaking skills in discussion, persuasion, analysis, etc.  If students can not clearly articulate their points of view in a credible professional fashion, they will be at a distinct disadvantage in the real world. 

A major feature of the English language arts and social studies standards is the use of informational/non-fiction text.  When students leave high school, they will be faced with this form of written work.  This will be a major shift since in the past the focus in class was on fiction which left many students unprepared for the demands of business or university work.  Seventy percent of all reading will now be informational/non-fiction reading material for high school.

With this in mind, one activity might be creating activities around historical documents such as the ones below:


Created September 17, 1787 and Ratified, June 21, 1788

July 4, 1776

Students would be given a copy of the Magna Carta and copies of the US Constitution OR the Declaration of Independence.  With the double bubble thinking map, students would look for similarities and differences between the two assigned to them.  ELLs might be provided with an outline of the key elements,  but would still have to look for key contrasts / similarities on their own.  After 5-7 minutes, students could then be assigned to small groups to share their findings with the understanding that EACH ONE will be held accountable for sharing results.  Accountability is done through random calls on students (teachers might use popsicle sticks with student names on them OR a randomizer app for a smart phone for example).  One could almost say that they would be teaching each other in a way with the teacher providing oversight and guidance as needed.

In groups, students would have to provide evidence from the two documents to support their positions.  For this, students would need to respond in complete sentences using academic vocabulary.  Finding evidence is a skill also used in English (and science). 

Of course, this is just a rough draft or an end product.  As teachers, you would of course have many mini-steps along the way to ensure that no one is left behind. 

It is my hope that as the new standards kick in, teachers might be willing to add their insight here as well as lessons.



P.S.  I am at a S.E.T.I. (Search for Extra-terrestial Intelligence) convention tomorrow all day so I may not be blogging tomorrow evening.  I will definitely share the highlights of the conference and how they would add to classroom instruction on Sunday though:)

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